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1896-1922: 4th Wave

Voyage to the Prairies

Crossing the Ocean

For the people who came from overseas, the journey to Canada was a long one. The voyage across the Atlantic Ocean often took two weeks by steamship, and even longer by sailing ships. The steamship was faster than a sailing ship, but most of the steamships were overcrowded and dirty. Many passengers became seasick and the journey was uncomfortable.

A black and white photograph of many people grouped together on a steamship.


It was a long, rough, and crowded journey for immigrants to come to Canada on a steamship.

A group of ten people are standing on a ship together and looking at the camera. The photo is black and white.


Immigrants travelled in groups, alone, or with their families.

Arriving in Canada

After a ship finally docked at the ports of Halifax, Montreal, or Quebec City, the immigrants could not leave right away. They were given medical tests and their travel papers were checked. During this time, they stayed in large buildings called immigration halls.

A group of people are lined up and sitting next to a fence with many items and belongings next to them.


After a long ship ride, people had to wait for medical tests before continuing the rest of their journey.

A group of illustrated people are standing at a harbour next to a ship full of people. There is a sign in the background that says ‘Welcome to Canada’.

Immigrants would arrive at the port, only to begin the next part of their journey!

Heading West

Their next journey was by train to the Prairies. The journey by train from Quebec to western Canada took from four to six days. The trains were often overcrowded and without heat. There were many delays. Passengers had to bring their own food or buy food during the trip. When they finally arrived at a town close enough to their homestead, they unloaded their belongings from the train and got a wagon or Red River cart to load their belongings into. Next, they would travel to their homestead. Their long journey was finally over once they got to their homestead but there were many more hardships to come.

A husband and wife and three young children sit on a train and look out the window towards the camera.


Immigrants would travel in a crowded train to the general area where they were planning to purchase a homestead.

Two men ride on a wagon that is full of belongings. The wagon is being pulled by two oxen.


Immigrants would travel by ship, then to the closest town to their homestead by train, and then use a wagon for the last part of their journey.

Two illustrated wagons that are full of suitcases and people are being pulled by horses. There are a number of people walking alongside the wagons as they go across the prairie.

Immigrants would finally arrive and the work was just getting started – they had to build a house, barn, and start plowing their farmland!